Langkawhat? Langkawho? Langkawhich? Etc.
I’d never heard of Langkawi prior to two months ago, when I was looking at a quick and affordable way to escape the Beijing smog before heading back to the UK for Christmas. In fact, Langkawi turned out to be was one of my favorite holidays ever. The island has so much to offer – mangroves, jungles, stunning beaches, delicious food, cheap booze – and that’s without going into it’s perfect location, just a stone’s throw from Thailand and other island hopping opportunities.
You’ll want to base yourself somewhere along the Pantai Cenang strip for easy access to the beach, restarurants and tourist excursions. I’d recommend NR Motel Langkawi, which is about a 20 minute walk from Cenang but only a 5 minute walk to the smaller, more secluded Patai Tengah. Because the island is quite compact, it’s only about a 15 minute drive to the airport from there.
Here’s just a sample of the kind of stuff you can do on Langkawi. Langkawhy? (I’ll stop now).
Rent a scooter
Langkawi is small, but the attractions are actually quite spread out. Cenang beach is on the other side from attractions like the Cable Car, and it would be impossible to walk between them. The roads in Langkawi are quiet and seemed fairly safe – plus renting a scooter or car allows you to go at your own pace without the pressure or expense of finding a taxi to take you from one point to the other.
Cable Car and Sky Bridge
Possibly the top attraction on Langkawi, the stomach turning Cable Car reaches heights of 708m above sea level before dropping you off at the top for some photos. The sky bridge, which is accessible from the top of the cable car, rises above the canopy in a giant S shape and wobbles even when subjected to a light breeze. It’s not a huge barrel of laughs, but it is pretty spectacular to see.
TOP TIP! Either arrive at the cable car early (like EARLY – I’m talking 8.30am, that kind of thing) or be prepared to queue for a long old time. There’s the initial queue to get your ticket, but because of the demand, your space on the cable car is reserved for a few hours after. We queued up at 1pm and were told the soonest available slot was 4.30pm.
Depending on how budget you are, you might want to pay the 50 extra ringitt for a VIP ticket (about £7) and skip every single queue to get straight on. We decided to go for this option, and I don’t regret it because otherwise we would have been stuck all afternoon in the tacky Oriental Village just to wait for our slot. After seeing queue upon queue all the way there, we realised we’d made the right decision.
Art in Paradise
Because we couldn’t say no to a little bit of tat. Art In Paradise, which also has locations in Thailand, is an Insta-paradise, with dozens of 3D pictures to pose in front of. Costs about 38 ringgit for an adult ticket.
Telaga Tujuh Waterfalls
A five minute drive down the way from the Oriental Village is the entrance for Telaga Tujush waterfall. On the pretty walk up, it’s easy to spot monkeys hopping from tree to tree. The waterfall itself (which apparently is non-existant in the dry season) crashes into several tiers of pools and natural slides, where a lot of the locals were diving. Obviously I didn’t try this, because I’m not insane.
Dinner and drinks on Cenang beach
The sheer variety of cuisines available on the Cenang strip meant we never really explored anywhere else for food. I was never into Indian food before until I tried the butter paneer curry at one of the beachside restaurants. Didn’t get sick or anything.
After Day 1 we were wrecked, but still managed to fit in a fair few drinks and a drunken swim in the sea before calling it a night. Booze is ridiculously (dangerously) cheap on Langkawi, in contrast to the rest of Malaysia.
Explore the beaches
After cramming so much into Day 1, we decided to take it easy on Day 2, heading to Tengah to soak up the sun. It’s a beautiful beach, a lot calmer and less touristy than Cenang which made a nice change.
Try the spa
Langkawi is host to a range of spas, although they wernt quite the price we were hoping. We ended up going with Alun Alun, which offered a back and shoulder 30 minute massage for about 60 ringitt. I’m not the biggest fan of massages, so I give it my highest possible rating of Not Unpleasant.
Evening Jungle Tour
We booked our evening jungle tour with a group called Dev’s Adventure Tours, who I highly recommend. Our guide Jerome led us through the rain forest near Berjaya Resort and within the first half hour of the walk we’d already spotted monkeys, lizards and flying lemurs. Jerome stopped the group every now and then to tell us about his mad life, history of Langkawi or facts about the jungle, and helped to safely get us through the woods as night fell upon the island.
Our last day was spent in the mangroves of Langkawi, the windy paths of water which helped to protect the island from the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. Again, we went with the excellent Dev’s Adventure Tours for this; kayaking through the mangroves with our awesome leader Khirien appealing a lot more to us than sitting still on a barge all day. The amount of wildlife on show was pretty staggering. We wandered through bat caves, saw eels hiding in the mud beneath the water, watched as huge eagles dived into the water to feed. It was a great way to spend our last day on this beautiful island.